New Jersey residents who have been diagnosed with cancer, a vascular event or an infection should know that these three conditions are often missed. Now, a study from Johns Hopkins University has calculated the rate at which these patients are the victims of a diagnostic error. Five cancers, five vascular events and five infections became the focus.
In all, researchers analyzed data on 91,755 patients from 28 previous studies. The cancers included melanoma, lung cancer and breast cancer. The vascular events included stroke and myocardial infarctions. Among the infections were spinal abscesses and pneumonia. Researchers defined a diagnostic error as a misdiagnosis, a delayed diagnosis or a delay in communicating the diagnosis.
On average, 9.7% of patients were misdiagnosed or experienced a delayed diagnosis. An error affected 62.1% of patients with a spinal abscess whereas it only affected 2.2% of those with a myocardial infarction. The median rate of diagnostic errors was 13.6%.
The rate of misdiagnosis-related harm also varied with each condition. For instance, 1.2% of MI patients incurred serious harm while for those with a spinal abscess, the percentage was 35.6%. The aggregate mean for serious harm was 5.2%. Researchers found that many correct diagnoses are delayed because of an initial misdiagnosis. This was true for nearly 25% of lung cancer patients.
Diagnostic errors are among the leading factors in medical malpractice claims. Those who have been hurt because of such an error may want a lawyer to take a look at their case. If it’s evident that the doctor was not living up to the requisite standard of care, then victims may be eligible for compensation. The lawyer may have medical experts investigate the case before moving on to negotiations. Ideally, a settlement can be achieved outside of court.